A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Notable Book
A Publishers Weekly Book of the Year
As seen on CBS This Morning, NPR's Fresh Air, and People Magazine
A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Library Journal Nonfiction Pick of September
The New York Times bestseller about a young black man's journey from violence and despair to the threshold of stardom. "A beautiful tribute to the power of good teachers."--Terry Gross, Fresh Air
"One of the most inspiring stories I've come across in a long time."--Pamela Paul, New York Times Book Review
Ryan Speedo Green had a tough upbringing in southeastern Virginia: his family lived in a trailer park and later a bullet-riddled house across the street from drug dealers. His father was absent; his mother was volatile and abusive.
At the age of twelve, Ryan was sent to Virginia's juvenile facility of last resort. He was placed in solitary confinement. He was uncontrollable, uncontainable, with little hope for the future.
In 2011, at the age of twenty-four, Ryan won a nationwide competition hosted by New York's Metropolitan Opera, beating out 1,200 other talented singers. Today, he is a rising star performing major roles at the Met and Europe's most prestigious opera houses.
SING FOR YOUR LIFE chronicles Ryan's suspenseful, racially charged and artistically intricate journey from solitary confinement to stardom. Daniel Bergner takes readers on Ryan's path toward redemption, introducing us to a cast of memorable characters--including the two teachers from his childhood who redirect his rage into music, and his long-lost father who finally reappears to hear Ryan sing. Bergner illuminates all that it takes--technically, creatively--to find and foster the beauty of the human voice. And Sing for Your Life sheds unique light on the enduring and complex realities of race in America.
calendar of Wagner's life, works and related events who's who of Wagner's contemporaries details of historical, intellectual and musical background exploration of Wagner's character and opinions full list of Wagner's prose writings comprehensive listing and discussion of the works
The star of the Metropolitan Opera's recent revival of Dvorak's Rusalka, soprano Renée Fleming brings a consummately beautiful voice, striking interpretive talents, and compelling artistry to bear on performances that have captivated audiences in opera houses and recital halls throughout the world. In The Inner Voice—a book that is the story of her own artistic development and the “autobiography” of her voice—this great performer presents a unique and privileged look at the making of a singer and offers hard-won, practical advice to aspiring performance artists everywhere. From her youth as the child of two singing teachers through her years at Juilliard, from her struggles to establish her career to her international success, The Inner Voice is a luminous, articulate, and candid self-portrait of a contemporary artist—and the most revelatory examination yet of the performing life.
The translation is accompanied by Stewart Spencer's introductory essay on the libretto and a series of specially commissioned texts by Barry Millington, Roger Hollinrake, Elizabeth Magee and Warren Darcy that discuss the cycle's musical structure, philosophical implications, medieval sources and Wagner's own changing attitude to its meaning. With a glossary of names, a review of audio and video recordings, and a select bibliography, the book is an essential complement to Wagner's great epic.
This book continues the work Martial Singher has done, in performances, in concerts, and in master classes and lessons, by drawing attention “not only to precise features of text, notes, and markings but also to psychological motivations and emotional impulses, to laughter and tears, to technical skills, to strokes of genius, and even here and there to variations from the original works that have proved to be fortunate.”
For each aria, the author gives the dramatic and musical context, advice about interpretation, and the lyric—with the original language (if it is not English) and an idiomatic American English translation, in parallel columns. The major operatic traditions—French, German, Italian, Russian, and American—are represented, as are the major voice types—soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass-baritone, and bass.
The dramatic context is not a mere summary of the plot but is a penetrating and often witty personality sketch of an operatic character in the midst of a situation. The musical context is presented with the dramatic situation in a cleverly integrated way. Suggestions about interpretation, often illustrated with musical notation and phonetic symbols, are interspersed among the author's explication of the music and the action. An overview of Martial Singher’s approach—based on fifty years of experience on stage in a hundred roles and in class at four leading conservatories—is presented in his Introduction. As the reader approaches each opera discussed in this book, he or she experiences the feeling of participation in a rehearsal on stage under an urbane though demanding coach and director.
The Interpretive Guide will be of value to professional singers as a source of reference or renewed inspiration and a memory refresher, to coaches for checking and broadening personal impressions, to young singers and students for learning, to teachers who have enjoyed less than a half century of experience, and to opera broadcast listeners and telecast viewers who want to understand what goes into the sounds and sights that delight them.
Whether you're a curious neophyte, a music lover interested in branching out, or an aficionado eager to compare notes with a brilliant fellow opera buff, you'll prize Ticket to the Opera as an essential volume in your music library.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Flying Dutchman
Tristan and Isolde
The Mastersingers of Nuremberg
The Nibelung’s Ring
The Twilight of the Gods
Newman’s complete grasp of his is clear at every turn, as are his wit and sheer writing ability. He lards his treatment of the stories, texts, and music of the operas and music dramas with biographical and historical materials acquired in the process of completing his numerous book on Wagner the man, including the magisterial Life of Richard Wagner, of which the fourth and final volume was published in 1946.
The second daughter of Greek immigrant parents, Maria found herself in the grasp of an overwhelmingly ambitious mother who took her away from her native New York and the father she loved, to a Greece on the eve of the Second World War. From there, we learn of the hardships, loves and triumphs Maria experienced in her professional and personal life. We are introduced to the men who marked Callas forever—Luchino Visconti, the brilliant homosexual director who she loved hopelessly, Giovanni Battista Meneghini, the husband thirty years her senior who used her for his own ambitions, as had her mother, and Aristotle Onassis, who put an end to their historic love affair by discarding her for the widowed Jacqueline Kennedy. Throughout her life, Callas waged a constant battle with her weight, a battle she eventually won, transforming herself from an ugly duckling into the slim and glamorous diva who transformed opera forever, whose recordings are legend, and whose life is the stuff of which tabloids are made.
Anne Edwards goes deeper than previous biographies of Maria Callas have dared. She draws upon intensive research to refute the story of Callas's "mystery child" by Onassis, and she reveals the true circumstances of the years preceding Callas's death, including the deception perpetrated by her close and trusted friend. As in her portraits of other brilliant, star-crossed women, Edwards brings Maria Callas—the intimate Callas—alive.
Opera lovers are an intense lot, Claudio E. Benzecry discovers in his look at the fanatics who haunt the legendary Colón Opera House in Buenos Aires, a key site for opera’s globalization. Listening to the fans and their stories, Benzecry hears of two-hundred-mile trips for performances and nightlong camp-outs for tickets, while others testify to a particular opera’s power to move them—whether to song or to tears—no matter how many times they have seen it before. Drawing on his insightful analysis of these acts of love, Benzecry proposes new ways of thinking about people’s relationship to art and shows how, far from merely enhancing aspects of everyday life, art allows us to transcend it.
But his tremendous success was derailed by his self-destructive lifestyle, and by age thirty-eight he was dead, with his extraordinary promise left unfulfilled.
Newly revised and updated for its first U.S. edition, Mario Lanza: Singing to the Gods is the definitive account of the remarkable life and times of one of the twentieth century's most beloved singing stars. This richly detailed work also contains a selection of rare photographs, several of which are drawn from Lanza's estate.
With the support of Lanza's daughter, Ellisa Lanza Bregman, the tenor's colleagues, and his closest friend, Terry Robinson, Derek Mannering has chronicled a fascinating and unforgettable life. From the fabulous successes of the early MGM years through the disastrous walkouts and cancellations that sent Lanza's career into freefall, Mannering objectively and movingly reveals the story of a great star torn apart by his own troubled psyche and undisciplined lifestyle.
Before portraying Wagner's "Ring," Arthur Rackham (1867–1939) had become England's leading illustrator through his interpretations of fairy and fantastic books: Grimm's Fairy Tales, Rip van Winkle, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, A Midsummer-Night's Dream. With his insight into elves, twisted oaks, and bearded heroes, Wagner was the logical step: with the "Ring," Rackham brought his talent for ethereal watercolor and line into new realms of adult mythology.
This edition reproduces, in full color, all 64 watercolor illustrations from Siegfried & The Twilight of the Gods (1911) and The Rhinegold & The Valkyrie (1912). The original English and American editions also contained black-and-white vignettes and tailpieces, a selection of which appear here: the original text, a dated English translation of the libretto, has been replaced by comprehensive descriptive captions and an introduction by James Spero.
Rackham poured all his mature fancy into the "Ring." The gnarled Nibelung Alberich sports with teasing Rhinemaidens, fiery Loge and lordly Wotan tussle with giants and serpents. An ecstatic Brünnhilde is finally consumed on Siegfried's funeral pyre in perhaps the most successful representation of this scene anywhere, either graphically or theatrically. Wagner's Teutonic forests and caves give Rackham free reign for his brooding, haunting nature backgrounds; characters, costumes, and all the tiny details are painted with such textual accuracy and empathy that today's opera companies who wish to return to staging the "Ring" in the traditional manner turn to Rackham's paintings for guidance.
The painstaking reproduction of these artworks brings Arthur Rackham's most heroic visions to the many collectors and admirers who cannot obtain the expensive out-of-print editions. With the aid of the clear captions, the Wagnerian cycle may be followed once again in its most time-honored and rich interpretation.
In Verdi's Shakespeare, Pulitzer Prize winner and lifelong opera devotee Garry Wills explores the writing and staging of Verdi's three triumphant Shakespearian operas: Macbeth, Othello, and Falstaff. An Italian composer who couldn't read a word of English but adored Shakespeare, Verdi devoted himself to operatic productions that authentically incorporated the playwright's texts. Wills delves into the fast-paced worlds of these men of the theater, focusing on the intense working relationships both Shakespeare and Verdi had with the performers and producers of their works. We see Verdi study the Shakespearean dramaturgy as he obsessively corresponds with his chosen librettists, handpicks the singers he feels are best- suited to the roles, and coaches them intensely.
With fascinating portraits of these artistic giants and their entourages, sharp insights into music and theater, and telling historical details, Verdi's Shakespeare re-creates the conditions that allowed Verdi to complete his masterworks and illuminates the very nature of artistic creation.
Fiedler chronicles the Met’s early days as a home for legends like Toscanini, Mahler, and Caruso, and gives a fascinating account of the middle years when haughty blue-bloods battled stubborn adminstrators for control of a company that would emerge as America’s premiere opera house. She takes us behind the grand gold-curtain stage in more recent years as well, showing how musical superstars like Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, and Kathleen Battle have electrified performances and scandalized the public. But most revelatory are Fiedler’s portrayals of James Levine and Joseph Volpe and their practically parallel ascendancies—Levine rising from prodigy to artistic director, Volpe advancing from stagehand to general manager—and their once strained relationship. Weaving together the personal, economic, and artistic struggles that characterize the Met’s long and vibrant history, Molto Agitato is a must-read saga of power, wealth, and, above all, great music.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The King and I is the story of the thirty-six-year-old business relationship between Luciano Pavarotti and his manager, Herbert Breslin, during which Breslin guided what he calls, justifiably, “the greatest career in classical music.” During that career, Breslin moved Pavarotti out of the opera house and onto the concert (and the world) stage and into the arms of a huge mass public. How he and Pavarotti changed the landscape of opera is one of the most significant and entertaining stories in the history of classical music, and Herbert Breslin relates the tale in a brash, candid, witty fashion that is often bitingly frank and profane. He also provides a portrait of his friend and client—“a beautiful, simple, lovely guy who turned into a very determined, aggressive, and somewhat unhappy superstar”—that is by turns affectionate and satirical and full of hilarious details and tales out of school, with Pavarotti emerging as something like the ultimate Italian male. The book is also enlivened by the voices of other players in the soap opera drama that was Pavarotti’s career, and they are no less uncensored than Herbert Breslin. The last word, in fact, comes from none other than Luciano Pavarotti himself!
The King and I is the ultimate backstage book about the greatest opera star of the past century—and it’s a delight to read as well.
Brown-Montesano views each character as the subject of a story, not merely the object of a hero’s narrative or the stock figure of convention. From amiable Zerlina, to the awesome Queen of the Night, to calculating Despina, all of Mozart’s women have something unique to say. These readings also tackle provocative social, political, and cultural issues, which are used in the operas to define positive and negative images of femininity: revenge, power, seduction, resistance, autonomy, sacrifice, faithfulness, class, maternity, and sisterhood. Keenly aware of the historical gap between the origins of these works and contemporary culture, Brown-Montesano discusses how attitudes about such concepts—past and current—influence our appreciation of these fascinating representations of women.
In More Opera Scenes, the Wallaces have reviewed 100 additional operas and have chosen over 700 scenes. The popular "Table of Voice Categories" providing more than 300 combinations is also featured in this volume.
Jessye Norman is one of the world’s most admired and beloved singers—and her life story is as moving and dramatic as the great operatic roles she has performed on stage.
Born and raised in Augusta, Georgia, she studied the piano and sang the songs of her childhood, never dreaming that this passion for music might lead to her life’s profession. Here she presents “a rich portrait of a childhood firmly grounded by family, church and community,” and recalls in rich detail the strong women who were her role models, from her ancestors to family friends, relatives, and teachers (The Wall Street Journal). She also discusses her relationship with the pioneering African American singer Marian Anderson—revealing the lifelong support she provided through her example of dignity and grace at all times.
Norman also describes coming face-to-face with racism, both as a child living in the segregated South and as an adult out and about in the world. Filled with inspiration and wisdom, Stand Up Straight and Sing! is not just for lovers of music, but for everyone.
Because opera was new in the seventeenth century, the composers (most notably Monteverdi and Cavalli), librettists, impresarios, singers, and designers were especially aware of dealing with aesthetic issues as they worked. Rosand examines critically for the first time the voluminous literary and musical documentation left by the Venetian makers of opera. She determines how these pioneers viewed their art and explains the mechanics of the proliferation of opera, within only four decades, to stages across Europe. Rosand isolates two features of particular importance to this proliferation: the emergence of conventions—musical, dramatic, practical—that facilitated replication; and the acute self-consciousness of the creators who, in their scores, librettos, letters, and other documents, have left us a running commentary on the origins of a genre.
The History of Opera For Beginners is an ideal introduction for people who are convinced that opera is solely for those refined few who were born listening to arias. Written in short, humorous, and informative chapters, and laced with some of the opera world's juiciest anecdotes, this guide is sure to convert even the most ambivalent of music lovers.
According to Katz, opera's origins in Renaissance Italy can be traced to numerous characteristics of life at that time. Among them are: the belief of the Humanists that the magical properties of music could be harnessed; the transition from polyphony to monody that gave musical expression to individualism; the melodramatic propensity of Italian culture reflected in its literary and theatrical arts; and the salons of Florentine aristocrats, scientists, and artists whose agenda included the challenge to rediscover how the ancient Greeks succeeded in heightening the rhetorical power of words by allying them with music. Katz discusses each of these factors in detail.
In her new introduction, Katz reconsiders her original work by discussing three topics. The first has to do with the perception that there has been a major change in the academic climate for this kind of analysis. The second relates to her concern with the eighteenth-century expansion of the Florentine comparison of the attributes of the arts, from which music emerges as the purest of all, for being freest of external reference. Third, she reconsiders her initial impression that opera was on the wane. The Powers of Music is an intriguing study that will be of interest to sociologists, cultural historians, and scholars of communication and popular culture.
Universally known and admired for his great oratorio Messiah, George Frideric Handel (1695–1759) ranks among the greatest composers of all time. Over a career of more than 50 years, most of it spent in England, the German-born master composed numerous other oratorios, operas, concertos, chamber music, orchestral suites, cantatas, and more. But until now, far less has been known about the man "possessed of a central calm" but whose "driving force was incalculable."
In this immensely thorough and readable biography — considered by many scholars the definitive work on Handel — renowned musicologist Paul Henry Lang penetrates the mystery of Handel's life to paint a vivid portrait of the great composer, while offering expert analysis of Handel's music — its sources, nature, forms, and influence.
Detailed, meticulously researched discussions cover Handel's birth and childhood in Halle; his early musical training and years at university; sojourns in Italy and meetings with Corelli, Scarlatti, and other major composers; Handel's adoption of England as his home; his business dealings in London; his somewhat puzzling relations with women; the onset of blindness in 1751 and the end of his artistic career; his death in 1759 and burial in Westminster Abbey; and many other aspects of his long and complex life.
In addition to the breadth of biographical material, Dr. Lang offers detailed discussions of Handel's music, of both its general characteristics and the specific features of such masterworks as the oratorios Messiah, Israel in Egypt, Solomon and Judas Maccabaeus; the operas Giulio Cesare and Rinaldo; the orchestral suites Royal Fireworks Music and Water Music;the pastoral Acis and Galatea; the odes Alexander's Feast and Ode for St. Cecilia's Day; and many other compositions. Perceptive, extremely thorough and obviously a labor of love, this masterly biography belongs in the library of every musician, music lover, and student of music and music history.
Of all the trademarks of Venice, none is more ubiquitous than the gondola. In this beautifully illustrated collection, internationally bestselling author Donna Leon tells fascinating stories about these famous boats.
First used in medieval Venice as an easily maneuverable getaway boat, the gondola evolved over the centuries into a floating pleasure palace that facilitated the romantic escapades of the Venetian elite. Now a tourist favorite, the gondola has never ceased to be a part of authentic Venice. Each boat’s 280 pieces are carefully fashioned in a maestro’s workshop—though Leon also recounts a tale of an American friend who decided to make a gondola all on his own, a feat that took five years to complete. But the gondola is a work of art well worth the labor, and no author is better poised to write about them than Leon, the “American with the Venetian heart” (Washington Post).